Good Friday services at Saint Matthew Cathedral felt like a funeral for me today: A feeling of Loss. Regret. Guilt. And Tears. Lots of tears. Why? Because the facts of the matter warrant tears. What we did to Jesus is beyond comprehension. I’m ashamed and embarrassed for the role I played in it all. When I got home I took a long walk. I walked to this life sized crucifix in the woods and stood directly beneath it, then got a strong urge to express the sadness and regret of Good Friday. All I could think of today was this:
God creates a breathtakingly beautiful world, filling it with life and wonder.
Of all the amazing creatures, God makes humans master of all. Only we have the capacity to enjoy certain things. Not only can we enjoy sights and smells and tastes, we can even enjoy sounds. We’re able to make music. We can experience the very high achievement of intellectual joy. We can win and lose and then decide whether these things are important. We can do things that no other creature can do. We can create letters and alphabets. We can write books that actually transfer complex thoughts from our own minds into the minds of others. (What?!?! Think about that for a moment.) We can assign numbers to things and then count them. We can add and subtract and multiply and divide. We can think deep thoughts or choose to avoid them. We can laugh and love and feel overcome with joy. But to do these awesome things, we had to have the ability to do the opposite, to choose to do things even against our own self-interest. We must possess a kind of freedom that nothing else in this world possesses.
But that shouldn’t be a problem, right? Who in their right mind would take a gift and use it for evil? That would not only show a lack of basic goodness and decency in us, it would also be very very stupid.
Well, we did. We took all these amazing powers and we abused them. Like ungrateful spoiled brats we didn’t appreciate them. We hurt each with these gifts, screwed things up so bad that we now experience profound pain. Pain! And it didn’t have to be this way! As a people we got to a point where we were drowning in our own spiritual waste. The entire world was in a decline due to nothing more than our own selfish reckless stupidity.
So did God condemn us for how we acted? Did he punish us for what we did with all the beautiful gifts He so generously gave?
Instead, He actually sent His only beloved Son to come to earth to make it right. Unbelievable! He sent HIS OWN SON to rescue us! His Son arrived and began to love us. He taught us how to love and how to live properly. He healed our bodies and our spirits. He shared with some of His disciples His own power to teach and heal. He Himself, the very Son of GOD Himself, entered into this epic mess, this world of suffering, hatred, and division. Why? To redeem us! He voluntarily took upon Himself all this massive amount of unnecessary suffering and charted a new course for us all. So what did we do?
We killed Him.
We killed Him. We killed him. We killed God’s only Son. And we were vicious about it. We didn’t listen to Him. We mocked him. We tortured Him. One of his closest friends betrayed Him. Most of the rest of his so-called friends scattered and abandoned Him at the hour of His greatest persecution.
It wasn’t just “those people” who did these things. I’m responsible too. And to the extent that YOU are not pouring forth every ounce of effort you’ve got to unite yourself to Him and love others and create beauty and heal the world and participate in the work of God’s Son, then YOU are responsible too. Sorry, sometimes the truth hurts. This is the reason for my tears and remorse on Good Friday: we have received all these incredible gifts and then we act like self-centered egotistical spoiled little brats who don’t care. We think we are entitled to all of them as though they are some kind of birthright. We don’t appreciate what He’s done for us and we could care less about anything except ourselves. Yep. Then God sends His Son to help us and…
We KILL Him. We freaking KILL Him!
I say “we” and not “they” or “you” because I played a major role in this myself. Sometimes by my own ugly sins because, you know, the world revolves around ME. Sometimes by my cold self-absorbed indifference. “Sorry, too busy to listen to You today! Can’t help right now… sort of tied up texting at the moment. Not really my job either. Whoops, hey look at the time. I’ve already made other plans. ”
Meanwhile, God’s own Son hangs dying on a cross. Most of us couldn’t care less.